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Holiday Traditions

What are your holiday traditions? Alex is getting older and she is getting more into the holiday spirit, each year! This year we are doing the following:

-Each evening after dinner, we do the advent calendar with both of our girls; and Alex never lets me forget, with her great memory and attention to detail! We found the chocolate (human) and dog advent calendars at Trader Joe’s, and they are a hit with the girls, including Victory!

-We are making Christmas eggnog sugar cookies, and they are simply the best! Alex loves to creatively decorate them; and then we all consume them! We especially like these sugar cookies, and Alex always loves to eat her cookies with eggnog!

-We love looking at Christmas lights. We have enjoyed Enchant and the Symphony of Lights! We also like to drive through neighborhoods and look at residential lights and decorations with our girls.

-We love watching Christmas themed shows with Alex, which are always a hit! We especially love A Charlie Brown Christmas.

-We love reading Christmas stories together, which is always fun!

-We love listening to Christmas music as well!

-I always get the girls matching Hanna Andersson pjs for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, which Alex enjoys, and Victory fortunately tolerates wearing them!

-We make a photo Holiday card each year!

-I also get the girls an ornament each year; I also get a few photo ornaments made from the year; and we also pick up ornaments from the places we visited, creating a Christmas memory tree!

-We decorate our Christmas tree together, and Alex loves to put on decorations! I especially love and cherish her hand made Christmas ornaments!

-I get Alex a Christmas dress each year!

-We usually go and see Santa with the girls, but we skipped last year and we are skipping this year, again, due to COVID. Alex has not asked for any specific gifts from Santa, this year, just that she hopes Santa wraps her gifts in orange wrapping paper, her favorite color! She is curious, though, about what Santa is going to bring her, which she is looking forward to with great anticipation!

-We will also likely leave a note and cookies for Santa this year, for the first time!

-We love spending time together, and Christmas morning is always so much fun! I am sure that our traditions will expand as Alex gets older, adopting some of her ideas, which she has many!

Creating a Christmas Memory Tree

While growing up, in my family, we each got an ornament every year through at least college, perhaps through graduate school, I cannot quite remember. I have started the same tradition in our family, creating a family memory tree — a live, living scrapbook. I love documenting our family in photographs, and I love the idea of documenting our life on our tree, creating lasting memories. Long before Alex was born, I have been collecting unique ornaments from the places we have traveled, while also just coming across unique ornaments over the years.

Since Alex was born, I have four types of ornaments I get each year for our Christmas tree: (1) one for Alex, and I try to get one with a date on it, marking each year; (2) one for our family, and I also try to get one with a date located on it; (3) one for Victory; and (4) one photo ornament of the girls together, usually with Santa, but a Santa visit is not happening this year, so I have a photo ornament of the girls together. It is actually a lot of fun, and there are so many places online to get unique ornaments. It does not take too much effort, but it is well worth the effort, for years to come, in my opinion. I usually get our ornaments in the fall each year, commemorating that year.

It is a fun endeavor, and I try to get ornaments that represent a theme for that year, if possible. This year, we got a personalized ornament of Alex swimming, since she really loved swimming this year; a personalized COVID-19 family ornament; a glass sheltie ornament for Victory; and a photo ornament of the girls together, all pictured below.

Alex is beginning to understand the concept of Christmas, and she loves doing the Advent calendar with Victory each evening; she really enjoyed helping us decorate our tree, and we got a larger tree this year, compared to previous Christmas trees; and it will be fun for Alex to pick out her own ornaments, as she grows older, which she will have to share with her kids someday. Most of all, it will be fun, for years to come, to pull out the ornaments, reminisce, and decorate our family tree, containing so many memories!

And, our little loves by our Christmas tree this year.

There has been so much change for Alex in a relatively short period of time — five months; seventeen months; and almost twenty-nine months, pictured below!

Seventeen Month and Eighteen Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I completed the monthly snapshots of our beloved Alex during her first year.  Here is the snapshot of Alex’s seventeenth month and eighteenth month!  (You can view Alex’s thirteenth and fourteenth months here; and Alex’s fifteenth and sixteenth months here).  Alex is changing all of the time and she is still growing like a weed!

How is our little girl already eighteen months old!  The time is flying too quickly!  It has been a busy few months for us.  Alex is still busy as ever and curious as ever!  Alex is turning into a little girl right before our eyes.  Doug coined her name on her new easel, that she got for Christmas, as the following: A is for Active; L is for Lovable; E is for Energized; and X is for Xtraordinary!  Alex is talking more and saying more words, too.  She comprehends a good amount as well.  Alex is down to one nap a day these days, and we have not found anything Alex is not willing to try food wise, including brussels sprouts, go figure!  She has a lot of personality and she is her own strong little person who knows how she likes things — her way!  She loves running around the house in only her diaper!  Her hair is very pretty and it is getting longer with some blonde and red highlights, with lovely curls in the back!  She currently is obsessed with our remote control for the television and the baby monitor screen for her room.  She thinks they are her telephones, which she loves to pretend play with each day!  She also loves to go into my office and sit in my chair and ‘type’ on the computer, use the mouse, and talk to Victory who is usually sitting under my desk at home!  She even likes to help with laundry!  She, unprompted, likes to take our dirty clothes and put them in the laundry, and a short video is shown below!  She also likes to help throw trash away, too!  And, she is also pretty good about putting her toys away as well.  Overall, I think, she is a good little helper!

Additionally, she is exploring more in the house and interacts more with Victory all the time.  Her chasing of Victory has mitigated; and she is petting Victory more gently, and she loves to give Victory treats before ‘night night!’  It is so sweet.  A short video is below of our girls!  In a few more months, I think Alex will understand more about Victory.  Victory still joins us in Alex’s room in the mornings and always before Alex goes to bed!  We will say to Victory, “go see sissy,” and she immediately runs upstairs to Alex’s room!  Alex has stopped calling Victory ‘Lou Lou’ and she is now saying ‘Tory,’ which is so sweet.  She always says ‘hello’ to Victory every morning and tries, sometimes successfully, if Victory is up for it, to pet Victory!

Alex really loves to go out on outings with us as well, even if it is just to the local Lowes with Victory!  She can ware herself out running up and down the aisles, and she thinks it is fantastic!  We also went on another field trip with Alex’s school to the B&O Railroad Museum, which she enjoyed and the museum was decorated nicely for Christmas!  Doug loves trains, so it was really a fun day!  And, Alex loved the short train ride, too!  Alex still loves our neighborhood playground and loves to play with the chalk and go in the swing!  We found another large park that she loves to go to as well.  The weather has been pretty mild, so we have been able to get her out and about!  She also still likes to go on walks together.  For Christmas, she got a new trike, which she loves, and she eventually will be able to peddle the trike by herself!

Alex had a great Christmas and Thanksgiving.  (Their visit to Santa this year was memorable.)  She participated in her school Holiday Party!  She looked adorable and she did her best to sing along with the rest of her class!  On Christmas Eve, she decorated homemade eggnog sugar cookies with Doug and it was a lot of fun! (A short video is below.)  On Christmas morning, Alex and Victory wore matching pajamas, their Happy Hannas!  They looked so cute together, albeit, it was challenging to get a photo of them together, as Alex was excited on Christmas morning doing her own thing, but I managed to get one descent photo of the girls together!  By the end of the morning, after working hard opening gifts, Alex took a long nap.  I am not sure Alex fully understood the concept of Christmas, but she had fun!  She also loves her new personalized new chair, which is fitting as she had been and still says, ‘I sit’ frequently!  She also loves her Roadster for indoors as well!

Alex tried out the Peloton Tred, which we love, pictured below, that we got for Christmas.  Alex never really cared for the child care at the gym, which made it challenging for us to get to and use the gym regularly, so we decided to get a treadmill for the house.  We had to reconfigure two rooms of our house, but we got it all to work and we absolutely love having a treadmill in the house, which is so convenient and the classes are engaging and fun, too!  I wish we had done it sooner as we are now able to workout consistently!

With Alex’s long Holiday break, we took her on some outings, including a few trips to an indoor playground, which she loves.  She still loves Pump It Up, as well, which we also visited a few times over her break.  She had a few play dates, too.  We also took her to Enchant, in D.C., which we all loved.  The light display was beautiful.  We plan to go back next year, if it is still local.  (There were even a few dates, which we missed, that allows one’s pup to attend as well!)  We took Alex to D.C. and Northern Virginia for New Year’s Eve and we had a nice evening together!  We have a few more places on our list to try this winter with her, which we are looking forward to.

Alex still cuddles with me in her glider, right before bed.  She pulls down her blanket and crawls into my lap with her lovie (a burp cloth); and most of the time, she falls asleep during this time.  It is one of my favorite times of the day.  There is nothing like it.  I feel so fortunate.  It has been such as journey.  We are doing our best to embrace the now, the present.  We are so grateful and we are excited for this new year!






















































































A few iphone images from Alex’s seventeenth month!


Here is a video from Alex’s seventeenth month — Alex doing laundry!


Here is a video from Alex’s seventeenth month — Alex swinging!







































































































































 A few iphone images from Alex’s eighteenth month!


Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex decorating Christmas eggnog sugar cookies with Daddy and Victory!


Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex climbing with all of her might at Pump It Up!


Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex shooting balls at Mamma with Daddy!


Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex sitting with Victory!


Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex feeding Victory treats!


Finally, below is a look back, month-by-month, (via iphone images), of our sweet Alex over the past eighteen months!  There has been so much change in such a short period of time!  We are so grateful for our healthy little girl!


Five Month Snapshot: Alexandra

How is our baby Alex already five months old!  The time is flying by so quickly, and she is changing and developing all the time!  I swear sometimes that she looks bigger in the morning compared to the previous night!  The theme for this month summed up in one word is patterns.  Doug and I have found patterns to most of our days with Alex.  This month, Alex is intrigued with holding her feet, as shown in the second image below!  We find her, many times, in the happy baby yoga pose!  She loves it.  She is also sitting up with the use of her hands to hold herself steady.  Alex’s sleep during this month has been a bit erratic.  Some nights she sleeps through the night and others she is up multiple times, as she has escaped her velcro swaddle wrap.  We are now using the Ollie Swaddle, while continuing to use the Dock-A-Tot, which is helping us get more sleep, which she has not, yet, escaped, which results in her waking up and waking us up.  She is still a morning girl, and the mornings are her best time of day!  We savor morning time with Alex and Victory.  Victory is still doing well having a ‘little sister.’  Victory makes her ‘morning rounds’ with Alex every morning and licks and cleans Alex, a daily ritual!  Sometimes, in the early evenings, before bed, Alex does have a rough time, some melt downs, which are not fun for anyone.  She still fights sleeping, at times, since birth, especially, in the evenings.  She is usually in bed and asleep by 8:00 p.m. most evenings.  She continues to grow, grow, and grow.  She is in 12 month clothing already!  She is really quite long, and I still continue to pack away her clothes that no longer fit each month!  This month we took Alex out to eat with us several times and she did well!  We also took her to her first Navy football game!  It was fun!  We also took our girls to see Santa recently and everything went pretty well!  Most of all, we look forward to celebrating our first Christmas together with both of our girls!  We are just about ready for Christmas and we are doing our best to stay in the present moment!

A few highlights from Alex’s fifth month include:

-the Ollie Swaddle is a life saver.  I highly, highly recommend it, if your baby needs a reliable swaddle!  It is the best swaddle we have found after trying a variety of swaddles since Alex was born.

-she is having erratic sleep at night this month; some nights she sleeps through the entire night and others she is up multiple times.  The new Ollie Swaddle is helping to keep her asleep during the night.

-she loves to grab her feet, her new favorite position, and she is trying ever so hard to get those toes in her mouth — most of the time, she is usually successful getting her big toe in her mouth, which she thinks is great!

-she is still putting everything in sight in her mouth!  We are still using the teething glove!

-she is drooling a lot, but no signs of any teeth yet!

-she likes to spit sometimes!

-she is a pro at rolling over from both her back and stomach!

-she still loves to play ‘peek-a-boo!’

-she still loves tummy time — she is so close to being a mobile baby!

-she truly found her vocal cords — she can screech for long stretches and she thinks it is humorous!

-she absolutely loves the mirror and loves to look at herself in the mirror, which she finds very captivating right now!

-she has started to hold her bottle a little bit during feedings!

-she loves to touch her hair with her hands while she eats!

-she tried rice cereal for the first time, but it did not go over all that well!  (We are going to try giving it to her in a bottle and see how that goes!)

-she also loves it when you rub your nose on her nose — she thinks it is the greatest thing!

-she is touching Victory’s fur more and more.  (We can’t wait for her to fully understand who Victory is!)

-she still loves play time and story time — she loves to be read to!

-she is still very alert and observant!  We take her out to eat with us and she loves experiencing new experiences, thankfully!  She continues to do well when we go out to eat; and she did well at her first Navy football game where the Navy won!  She is now going to the gym with us in the evenings and she seems to like the care center, so far, so we can get a work out in several times a week!  We plan to take her swimming soon!

-she still loves her swing, and she takes at least one nap in it daily, typically!  (I am not sure what we are going to do when she outgrows her swing!)


A few highlights I would like to remember:

-photographing and making videos of Alex — I want to remember and capture as much as I can!

-greeting Alex in her nursery in the mornings!  One of my favorite times!

-loving on her long, chunky body along with all of her folds and rolls, which are mitigating some!

-loving her smell and her velvety smooth skin — it is so soft!

-loving how she smells after a bath!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing, and her hair appears that it will be relatively thick!

-loving her chuckle — it is so adorable.

-loving her ‘baby talk’ and ‘cooing.’

-enjoying our morning time consisting of: play time and story tine together, a time when baby Alex is very animated and she is generally in a really good mood, and now Victory joins us, which makes it even better!

-enjoying watching Alex playing in her jumper!

-rocking Alex to sleep at night in her swaddle!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!

-enjoying the beautiful morning light in Alex’s nursery each morning!

-knowing how much our little Victory loves her ‘little sister!’

-watching Alex play with her Daddy!

-remembering when Alex first listened to Christmas music, which she loves!

-knowing on the days that I feel totally exhausted, that I will someday really miss these early days, and I need to remind myself, at times of this fact.

-still asking myself what will I miss about this time of my life when it’s all gone?  This question keeps everything in perspective.

-most of all, we are cherishing getting to be Alex’s parents!

Doug and I are very grateful for our little girl and our little family!  We feel so fortunate.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality continue to develop and unfold.  Below are a few images: Alex’s monthly portrait; Alex and Victory’s monthly portrait; followed by photos of Alex throughout this month; and some iphone images during her fifth month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s one month snapshot here; her two month snapshot here; her three month snapshot here; and her four month snapshot here.



See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!



See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!









































A few iphone images from this month!

Around Here: December

Happy December!  We cannot believe that it is almost the end of the year and the December Holidays are here!  Below are some items that have occurred around here in December!

-continuing to work on the next steps concerning my long-term photography project.

-enjoying date nights together!  However this month we did not try any new restaurants!  We’ll try again next month.

-making more dinners at home together, and here is an old favorite that we made this month!

-took Victory to see Santa for the fourth time!

-had our first snow this winter this month and the temperatures are cold — winter is here and it is here to stay!

-this weekend I took Victory on her last Hound About walk/ride for the year!

-gave Victory her last bath for the year!

-finished and sent out our Pawliday card!

-finished our Christmas shopping!

-continuing to work on getting fine art prints made, framed, and hung in our home, an ongoing endeavor!

-finished the third season of Broadchurch, a good series.

-finished Alias Grace, a really good series.

-started the second season of The Crown, an excellent series.

-began reading Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.  I hope to get some reading done over the Holidays!

-listening to a myriad of podcasts, especially, at the gym and on walks!

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Happy Monday!


Around Here: December

Happy December!  I am not sure how it is already the end of the year and Christmas is only a couple of days away!

-continuing to work steadily on my long-term photography project — an image at a time.

-we took a trip to Newark, Delaware.

-our house is all decorated for Christmas and we love sitting by our little Christmas tree along with our candles!

-we took our little Victory to visit Santa for a third time this month!  Thankfully, Victory is very cooperative!

-having fun making and decorating eggnog sugar cookies!

-enjoying date nights together!

-we joined a new gym this month, as it was time for a change!

-started the third season of The Americans.

-finished the first season of Doctor Foster.

-we plan to see Manchester by the Sea this weekend.

-trying to get plenty of rest during this busy time of year.

-listening to podcasts!

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Wishing you a wonderful Pawliday!



Victory: Photography Project — 93

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

We went to Newark, Delaware this weekend and took our fur girl, Victory with us!  It was nice to get away.  Before leaving, we finished most of our Pawliday cards, while getting our small Christmas tree and Holiday decorations up around the house, including our outdoor lights, wreath, poinsettias, and indoor window candles!  It feels cozy in our house, especially with all of our candles.  We are looking forward to making Christmas cookies and watching some festive movies.  While we are not ready for Christmas, and we are taking a low-key approach this year, Victory is ready!  She looks festive in her red cable Christmas sweater, shown below!  She is also going to visit Santa again this month!   While we cannot believe another year is coming to a close shortly, we are excited to see what the New Year will bring!

Happy Tuesday!



Around Here: November

Happy November!  I am not sure how it is already the end of November and the close of 2016 is soon upon us.  Below are some items that have occurred around here in November!

-continuing to work steadily on my long-term photography project — an image at a time.

-we took a trip to Dewey Beach with Victory!  (A few short iPhone videos from our trip are shown below.)

-enjoyed our last visit to the Eastern Shore for crabs and fish this year.

-enjoying date nights together!

-burning fall candles in our home!

-making crock pot dinners together — which are mostly prepared by Doug!

-Victory had a urinary tract infection (UTI) this month, which was treated with antibiotics and she is now UTI free!

-getting ready for Thanksgiving!

-finished and ordered our Pawliday card, custom stamp, and seals!

-getting ready to decorate for Christmas around the house!  We ordered our live tree from Maine online that is going to be delivered later this week!

-Victory recently received her Christmas sweater to wear when she goes to visit Santa again next month!

-currently reading Love Worrier.

-finished the second season of The Americans.

-listening to a myriad of fun podcasts!

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Happy Tuesday and wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!


The Changing Seasons

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  —George Santayana

Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of a change of the seasons as summer comes to a close.  We could even feel the change coming in the air.  As such, we took full advantage of the nice weather this past long weekend doing some fun summer outings, including seeing a Bruce Springsteen concert in D.C. and taking Victory on multiple walks in her Hound About, which she loves!  We also took Victory to Harbor East for pizza at one of our favorite pizza spots; we took her to the Eastern Shore for crabs and shrimp; and we took her to Delaware!  We also spent some time at our pool prior to it closing for the summer where we were able to catch up on reading and much needed rest.

Just like the changes of seasons, our own seasons are constantly changing, too.  Life is filled with moments of happiness and long stretches of contemplation, and the key is to stay present through it all, even during the long stretches that sometimes feel long and difficult to endure.  We are currently adjusting to a new routine as I accepted a new position, a positive change for us.  However, poor little Victory’s schedule has been off kilter the past few weeks, but we are all getting acclimated to a new routine; and, thankfully, things will get more on track and closer to our ‘normal’ routine starting next week.

We are looking forward to the fall and welcome the change of season.  We look forward to celebrating our two anniversaries (the anniversary of our first date and our wedding anniversary); celebrating Victory’s birthday; taking trips to the pumpkin patch and orchard; celebrating Halloween; enjoying Doug carving his yearly pumpkin; lighting fall scented candles; and welcoming cooler temperatures, to name a few!

Happy Wednesday!


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Victory: Photography Project — 80

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Happy New Year!  How was your Holiday?  We returned home yesterday after a week and a half visiting relatives!  It was nice to visit with family, and I enjoyed catching up with my sister.  She is growing her little baby while sporting a baby bump, and we can’t wait to meet our nephew this spring!  It was nice to get away and have a change of scenery.  Victory did pretty well while we were away, although we believe she is not too interested in expanding her pack!  Victory was so happy to be home and in her (our) bed last night!  Victory can be a complicated little lady!  Victory also received many nice gifts for Christmas!  She got a new feeder, clothing, toys, and treats!

Since we were going to be away for the Holidays and our December was quite busy, we did not put up a Christmas tree like last year.  However, each year I take a photo of our fur girl by the Christmas tree, an annual tradition along with visiting Santa!  This year, Victory sat by her Grandma’s Christmas tree, shown below!

We hope that you had a great Holiday!  I am looking forward to the new year, catching up, and getting back into the swing of things!

Happy New Year!


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